5 Things Preachers Should Stop Doing!

Today’s post is written by Mark Clark. Mark is Senior Pastor of Village Church in Vancouver, a close friend, and co-creator of our course The Art of Better Preaching.

By Mark Clark

I have the great opportunity to not only communicate as part of my job – as a preacher, writer, conference speaker, etc., – but actually help train up preachers and communicators in different settings (church ministry, marketplace leaders, etc.,)

Here are five things I tell them to stop doing!

1. Stop pretending

Authenticity is the new currency of leadership.

So stop pretending. Stop using THAT voice.

You know the one – the preacher voice. False vulnerability. False concern. False ups and downs. Just be you.

Talk and proclaim to people as a real person. Use biblical language certainly but not heightened Christianese that nobody understands – or trusts – anymore.

Be a real person. A bruised reed. A leader with a limp. Not the hero of the story.

Be a real person. A bruised reed. A leader with a limp. Not the hero of the story. - @markaclark Click To Tweet

2. Stop being content-weak

Be theologically informed. Call people to think and feel on a deeper level.

There is a huge amount of stuff out there that is saying nothing. Don’t copy that if you are an up-and-comer.

It will scare you into thinking you can’t give people heavy ideas without losing them. It’s not true. You can hold people, but you have to work hard at it.

You know what you do now? The hours you put into writing, reading, and forming that message? You likely have to work even harder than that. And you’ll have to illustrate those heavy concepts in real life for them to land and stick.

3. Stop being boring

The scholars on the blog you read daily may care how many footnotes you have in your sermon or what a good ecclesiological hermeneutic is but most people are trying to pay the bills, hold on to their marriage and understand why God allowed fill in the blank.

Don’t bore them. Inspire them.

Ask why five thousand people followed Jesus out to the middle of nowhere and listened to his vision for their life, and ask whether you could get even a dozen to do the same. If not, why not?

Being theological accurate and yet boring is a kind of sin.

It abandons the reality of the gospel and its effect on our real lives.

Being theological accurate and yet boring is a kind of sin. - @markaclark Click To Tweet

4. Stop wasting precious time

How many times are you sitting there waiting for the preacher to SAY SOMETHING?

Greeting. Intro. Announcements. The passage. What I’m going to say. What I said. Get on with it.

You only have a few minutes every week and eternity is in the balance.

Hi, I’m so and so, open your bibles, here’s what that means! Jesus. Repent. See you next week. Repeat.

5. Stop not trusting the Gospel

I know it sounds like something I should be saying but it’s just true.

The message about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, not just a message about God generically, really is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). The means by which God saves people. More so than your series brand, or marketing ideas.

You want to see people meet Jesus and be saved from sin, death and Hell. How?

He tells us. It isn’t by being forced through some legalistic burden – to read your sermon word for word like you’re giving a paper at a mining conference.

The letter of the law is dead, the spirit of the letter is what brings life.

Nor is it by jumping around, working people’s emotions, trying to control the energy in a room.

Such things create false disciples. Counterfeit conversions.

What’s more tragic than that?

Why bury the gospel under, well, everything else?

The gospel is where the power lies. To change lives. Every week. Without fail. Start doing that. I believe in you!

The gospel is where the power lies. To change lives. Every week. Without fail. - @markaclark Click To Tweet

What else should preachers stop doing? 

Leave a comment below!

5 Things Preachers Should Stop Doing!

20 Comments

  1. Tom Lathen on May 20, 2021 at 10:49 am

    We make it so hard some times. There is a desire to serve God, to share the message of salvation in Christ alone. It really is pretty simple.
    Sometimes I thinking I am falling flat on my behind, but I keep praying and listening, I share what God places on my heart, in the hope it will mean something to someone in the pews.
    Saved by grace. Christ alone. But saved. It’s a simple message. One of my COS mentors mentioned we often preach the sermon we need to hear. I thought that was insightful.
    But, we need to be heavy on the word, filled with a grace that welcomes. We need to get to the point and not beat it to death. We need to recognize that every person listening on line, or sitting in the sanctuary is at a different place. Those are some of the things that make it tough. We cannot, and should not try to be all things for all people…that job’s already been filled by the guy we say we’re working for.

  2. Kevin on September 30, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Too loud, you have a fake preacher voice, too calm you are not passionate. Jesus both “taught” and “preached “ I’m curious with no sound system how His voice reached so many. Speaking to a crowd today is like being caught in a meat grinder, you’re bound to do something someone doesn’t like or think is “authentic”

    • Nate on May 20, 2021 at 10:40 pm

      I think the heart behind the post is not to criticize what preachers do, but to sharpen preachers in their goal and efficiency. We don’t do what we do for man’s approval, but we do have to understand our audience in order to build a bridge to them.

  3. Tony Hellman on September 27, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    How exactly do i know for sure if the preacher is being genuine

    We had a pastor for 20 years and found out he was stealing the offering

    He had a silver tongue and started the church

    Surprise!!!!! We’ve had a new pastor for 10 years and he teaches on prayer

    But how do you know

  4. VA Girl on September 27, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    While all of this is great advice, it still has that sheen of pragmatic marketing. Don’t be authentic because authenticity is right — do it because it’s this generation’s most in-demand currency. When the crowd wants authenticity, we’ll be authentic. When they want authoritative confidence, we’ll switch to that. There’s a growing trend among church leaders to address complaints about church by acting like they get it. The system is flawed, too many are being marginalized, not enough authenticity… so they carry on with the marketing and the how-to books on the ironic topic of being more organic. Just like politicians who go through coaching on how to look less coached.

    The mainstream system will continue watching churches close until something REALLY changes.

    • Chuck on May 20, 2021 at 3:40 am

      Three points. Nothin but net!

    • Nate on May 20, 2021 at 10:47 pm

      Agree that why we do what we do is important. I don’t see anything here saying authoritative confidence is not authentic. If you really have authoritative confidence, you will be able to present that in an authentic way. I think this is talking about being a different man in the pulpit than you are in the pew.

  5. Jeff Pinkleton on September 27, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Stop telling everyone how busy they are.
    I serve full time in men’s ministry, parachurch – http://www.GatheringMiamiValley.org – & I’m flabbergasted at how many pastors can only tell everyone how busy they are, no margin, etc.
    Two ways that goes, shame on them for either A. No margin on their end and not creating it, B. Letting everyone pull them in that many directions and running their lives.
    Also, when that is shared it drives me nuts, because how many of their volunteers leaders, board, committee members have full time jobs, run businesses and more and as if they aren’t busy.
    Too me, it’s a big slap in the face to those volunteer servants.

    • Joe Lalonde on September 27, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      So true, Jeff. Ministry can be busy but it should never be so busy you have time for nothing else. I also agree with your point about pastors sharing how busy they are while expecting those attending their church to also serve while they have full-time jobs. Where do you think the disconnect comes in?

  6. Mark on September 27, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Stop appearing angry and lashing out at people. I have seen too many preachers who went to the pulpit and preached harshly at young people or gave them nothing in the sermon that they could “take to the bank.” Most preachers get protection from old people who wont speak up and kids. Basically, the parents will tell the kid to tell the preacher that it was a good sermon instead of the kid being allowed to ask why are you so mad at me? This only can last so long before the kid wants nothing to do with Christianity.

  7. Dale on September 26, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    The time wasting issue is a big deal. We have at max 1.5 hours each Sunday to communicate the most important message in the world! Why spend time and words on nonessentials and irrelevant fluff. The best communicators know they can always get better and say more by saying less.

  8. Joseph Lalonde on September 26, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Mark, I had to chuckle at the “pastor voice” line. I always wonder how pastors are consistently trained to sound like hyped-up wrestlers. It bothers me every single time. There’s a lack of authenticity there. It feels like they flipped a switch and became a performer rather than someone who is telling their story or the story of Christ. Why do you think so many pastors do that?

    • Frederick Anderson on September 26, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      Although some dislike the “pastor voice” some pastors continue to do it because certain groups respond to it.

      • Joe Lalonde on September 27, 2019 at 1:04 pm

        Frederick, yet there are many people they turn off by doing it. There’s a fine line. I wonder what audience wins out: The ones who enjoy the voice or the ones who want real authenticity.

    • Dale on September 26, 2019 at 8:09 pm

      Yep. Tired of preachers not relating to everyday people when they flip on the preachers voice switch once they are on the stage, platform, behind the ”sacred desk” or whatever we call it.

      • Joe Lalonde on September 27, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        I knew I couldn’t be the only one, Dan. I understand there’s a different voice we use when we’re passionate about something but this isn’t it. It doesn’t make people relate either. What do you think can be done to stop this?

        • Nate on May 20, 2021 at 10:51 pm

          I don’t think pastor’s are being trained to use the voice, but many are exposed to successful and noteworthy preachers who preach this way. When you spend 4 years around other preachers in a college, you start to pick up the same quirks, even if you don’t realize it. A guy might practice to preach to a room of 1000, and then go pastor a church of 100 (which is when the shouting really starts to crowd the room).

  9. LINDA on September 26, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Has GOD given you an evangelist heart,?? if he has listen to him as he will direct you to the people who need to hear the message, my story is too long to tell but i was not brought up in a christian home. the LORD used Bible prophecy to alert me and i was almost 30 years old when i trusted Jesus Christ as my saviour. i was designed by GOD to be a people person, i love and care about people, being so excited about having all my sins forgiven i wanted to share this truth from my heart to others.. I was open and genuine and real and the Lord gave me the words to speak from my heart. Your own personal experiences with the Lord strengthens you and the word of GOD is powerful and sharper than a two edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart….. The word of GOD is so powerful, be real and true and show the love of Christ and even in challenging times, storms in your life teach you many things which are sometimes hard but GOD has allowed this to keep you closer to him and show you things you need to learn to be a blessing to someone else also. Because now you understand more, be discerning and wise as you will again understand and lovingly be a blessing to someone else who needs encouragement. Proverbs 3; 5-6. wanted to share this from my heart……..GOD gets all the glory not us when speaking of spiritual things we are to have a humble heart and not puff ourselves up with what we do… but we can do all things thru Christ who strengths us… from…Linda a sister in the Lord

  10. Yvonne on September 26, 2019 at 11:13 am

    This is great. I, too, wonder what happened the the Gospel of Jesus.

    I am very grateful to learn more and more.

    Get o the point, I love it.

    Be yourself. Love it!

    • Jonathan Tucker on September 26, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      The Father sent the son to be the Savior of the world. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” That’s my gospel, right out of John’s gospel!

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